"Mommy, I see a little bit of the sun, it's time to go!" I turned toward the voice. There stood my 4-year-old in bathing trunks, holding his complimentary Ritz-Carlton pail and shovel, eagerly awaiting the much-touted Sunrise Seashell Search. I rounded up his siblings (8 and 12) and, casting a sidelong glance toward my still-sleeping husband, glided down the corridor.
We hit the beach looking forward to communing with other early risers (except for some lone joggers, no one else had ventured to leave the warmth of their beds) and we were richly rewarded. The Gulf of Mexico was totally calm, the air was cool with an underlying hint of the heat yet to come, and the sand was wonderfully refreshing under out feet. Looking toward the horizon, the kids were thrilled to see dolphins jumping in and out of the water, and, not that far from shore.
Someplace relaxing, easy to get to, and warm was our goal on Memorial Day weekend. We had heard that The Ritz-Carlton Naples (239/598-3300) was a luxurious, but kid-friendly getaway, about a 30-minute drive from the airport at Ft. Myers. The hotel has large rooms (big enough for a family of four to share) or rooms which interconnect. My children loved just sitting on the beach (a large cabana tent can be rented for a nominal fee), playing in the calm surf, and taking rides on the banana floats and paddle boats. There was also a large trampoline set up on the beach, which got a lot of youthful action. The restaurants have kid-friendly food, although we personally enjoyed watching the reaction of other diners to our 4-year-old's daily lunch order of Little Neck clams! The hotel tries so hard to make sure its guests relax, that the four-day vacation actually seemed a lot longer. We can't wait to go back.
The Ritz-Carlton Naples
280 Vanderbilt Beach Road
Naples, FL 34108
Excerpted from a series in 1998, when Family Travel Forum asked a dozen top travel writers to share their "favorite family resorts" with readers.
This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question, and stay up to date with current events to ensure a safe and successful trip.